I noticed this forthcoming paper in the same issue of TICS as the Grodzinsky & Santi paper that David highlighted in a previous post. Looks interesting!
Action comprehension in non-human primates: motor simulation or inferential reasoning?
Justin N. Wood1, and Marc D. Hauser2
1University of Southern California, Department of Psychology, 3620 South McClintock Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA 2Harvard University, Department of Psychology, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Available online 23 October 2008.
Some argue that action comprehension is intimately connected with the observer’s own motor capacities, whereas others argue that action comprehension depends on non-motor inferential mechanisms. We address this debate by reviewing comparative studies that license four conclusions: monkeys and apes extract the meaning of an action (i) by going beyond the surface properties of actions, attributing goals and intentions to the agent; (ii) by using environmental information to infer when actions are rational; (iii) by making predictions about an agent’s goal, and the most probable action to obtain the goal given environmental constraints; (iv) in situations in which they are physiologically incapable of producing the actions. Motor theories are, thus, insufficient to account for primate action comprehension in the absence of inferential mechanisms.